The Heterogeneity of Duration: Lovejoy-Ushenko’s Objections

  • Milič Čapek
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 7)


If true succession implies the appearance of genuine novelty and contingency, this means that there is an irreducible, qualitative difference between successive phases of any temporal process. It is precisely this difference which accounts for the element of indetermination and creativity which constitutes the essence of the present moment. In other words, true duration is by its own nature heterogeneous; homogeneous time is merely a practically convenient but theoretically inadequate fiction. As we shall see, it is not quite adequate even as far as physical reality is concerned, though it has a maximum convenience and practical applicability on the macroscopic level. The affirmation of the qualitative heterogeneity of successive phases of duration will throw additional light on Bergson’s notion of “qualitative multiplicity”, which he opposed to the arithmetical multiplicity of distinct juxtaposed units. Bergson’s emphasis on the heterogeneity of successive moments may at first glance appear to contradict his insistence on the introspective continuity of duration.


Momentary State Present Moment Successive Phasis Sensory Nucleus Cerebral Process 
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  1. 2.
    Andrew Ushenko, The Logic of Events. An Introduction to a Philosophy of Time, Univ. of California Press, Berkeley, 1929, pp. 120–121.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    A. O. Lovejoy, ‘The Problems of Time in Recent French Philosophy’, The Philosophical Review XXI (1913) 328–329. Lovejoy quotes A. E. Taylor who claimed that Bergson is “at heart as much of an Eleatic as Mr. Bradley.” (!)Google Scholar

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© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1971

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  • Milič Čapek

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